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Plan check for raising chicks in the flock

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I live in Perth Australia (spring time) & have 3 big girls (australorp, buff Sussex & light Sussex), who are around 9mo - 1 year old. They have a small prefab coop (with ramp) that they squeeze in to sleep & a wire run which is always open to a large electric mesh area.

A couple of weeks ago Prof (light Sussex) went broody. I tried taking her out of the nest multiple times a day, locking her out, putting ice in the coop all to no avail. I was about to try and find a broody buster cage, but managed to convince my husband to get a couple of fertile eggs instead smile.png. Yesterday I went for the eggs are & instead came home with two 1 day old chicks (on the advice of the chicken guy) - a silver Sussex & a silver laced Wyandotte . We put a hat over profs head, stuck the chicks under her and walked away - scary! Checked yesterday evening & today and I think all is well. She has moved her best a bit & the chicks seem to have gone with her (I can't see them anywhere else). I'm pretty sure I heard a couple of peeps from under her, but she attacks me when I try & lift her wing so I can't know for sure.

Anyway, I now need a plan for the care of these guys. Because I have a microcoop, I cannot section her off (a bigger coop is on the list). I have put a shallow waterer & chick starter in the coop & some had been eaten today. The other girls only go to the coop to roost & lay as their food and water is in the run. They were all locked in the coop last night & all seems well this morning so I don't think that will be a drama.

So my current plan is to leave Prof to it. We have put a block over the door of the run so the big girls can get out into the mesh area and the chicks cannot (they could walk straight through the mesh & I worry magpies will eat them. We will check every evening to make sure they have managed to get back up the ramp once prof lets them out, which I'm hoping will not be for a week or two. The guy in the chicken place said to just keep feeding layer mix & starter, as 'mum knows best & will teach them what to do'. From what I have read here that seems like incorrect advice, so I am thinking of converting all the girls to grower & keeping it out in the mesh area so the chicks can't get it for a few weeks. The run has sand in it, so I'm guessing I don't need to provide grit for them?

That only leaves disease management. The chicks are vaccinated for Mareks, and on medicated starter. the chicken guy says as they are outside they should be all good, and only to treat with corid if they become lethargic. I know some give prophylactically in water, so I'd be interested to know thoughts on this.

Any advice on my plan would be appreciated. I like the idea of leaving them to it, and intervening as little as possible, let's see how it goes!

Cheers in advance,

post #2 of 6



I like your approach of letting the mother get on with it - she knows whats best for her chicks. 


Re: feed - starter food is recommended and i would not consider layers mash anywhere near the chicks. Increased calcium level affects protein conversion and the mother does not need additional calcium right now, as she has not laid for around 3-4 weeks i am guessing and is unlikely to lay for another 4-5 weeks. 


Sand in the run means no additional grit necessary.


Personally, i have one feeding station with layers food (and optional bone meal - i would use oyster shell but its not available in Kenya) and one with growers mash (usually provided at around 5-6 weeks). The growers mash i put in a feeder on the ground, and the layers mash is suspended - its does not always stop the little ones sneeking some layers mash, but i don't sweat it these days.


I would imagine that in terms of disease they should be fine. I am expecting a hatch this coming weekend and i have (for the first time) got some vaccines (including Newcastle disease / infectious bronchitis and Gumbro) that i will administer to chicks and adults alike.


Hope this helps a little



post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for that. I saw one chick out eating & drinking & I think the other is still under Prof - she is a pretty super mum so far smile.png
post #4 of 6

Great pic - i never grow tired of seeing little chicks running around (not sure my wife shares the same thoughts)!


Good luck



post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, the Wyandotte (not in the pic) didn't make it sad.png. She was much much smaller than the other one & I think got somehow trapped under Prof & was too weak to get out. By the time I moved Prof to check at lunch time (after the other had been running around heaps), she was very weak and unable to stand sad.png. I gave sugar water & electrolytes but it was just too late. I was so worried about disturbing prof and messing up the bonding that I think I left it too late to intervene. Turns out Prof is a pretty chilled mum & doesn't mind me picking up her chicks. I guess if we do this again at least I know to check more frequently and buy bigger chicks (I think the survivor might be 2 days old). The survivor (now named Frankie) looks super healthy and happy and is jumping all over his happy mum, so fingers crossed he will do well.

Cheers, Julia
post #6 of 6

Guess its normal to lose a chick here and there. Don't beat yourself up about not checking so frequently -  it was more than likely that the chick was weak for a reason and so may not have survived to adulthood anyway. At least you have one happy, healthy little one. It will give the mother hell - nobody else to play with, but it will be just fine!




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